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Archive → July, 2023

PGC’s strange hunter survey

Today a Pennsylvania Game Commission email arrived, asking if I would participate in a brief hunter survey. Being 100% opinionated about everything, naturally I acquiesced. “Shy” was maybe used to describe me when I was young, but not as an adult. Because I consider myself a careful thinker, committed only to First Principles from America’s founding and to The Bible, and being relatively uncommitted to mass movements or parties, I enjoy sharing my perspectives with people who are open minded and interested in understanding different points of view than the prevailing narratives hawked by the Mainstream Media Corporate Industrial Complex.

The PGC survey consisted of really just three questions, all of which were about hunting waterfowl such as ducks and geese.

First question was did I hunt ducks last season, to which I responded No, I Did Not Hunt Ducks Last Season. The reason being that although I live just two blocks from that once famous migration route on the mighty Susquehanna River, the current duck migration down the Susquehanna River is not even a shadow of its former self. Rather, the duck migration here does not exist and has not existed for twenty years. I see more ducks lounging about and crapping on people’s yards in Italian Lake City Park across the street from my front yard than I see out on the Susquehanna River sitting on a bucket with a shotgun in my hand.

So, unless I travel to the Chesapeake Bay to hunt ducks, it is rare for me to get out after them any longer. Without Sunday hunting like all the surrounding states have, my opportunities for waterfowl hunting in Pennsylvania are pretty limited to what I can access quickly and easily. Like the dead Susquehanna River within sight of my dining room window.

Second question asked which Goose Zone I hunted in. Easy enough to answer.

Third question, which was broken down into three different alternatives, pertained to which of three unbearable and useless goose hunting seasons I liked or did not like, and how much I liked them or disliked them. All three alternative seasons PGC presented were unnecessarily fragmented from late October into February, and included very little early season but lots of late and really super late season. The problem being that the southward goose migration is heaviest in the part of October when the PGC shuts down our goose hunting, and the goose migration is entirely over by the time the PGC season opens back up. Fat lot of help these potential seasons offer!

This is a curious situation, which I have never had satisfactorily answered. Some hunters I know say that the Susquehanna River Waterfowlers, to which the PGC looks for hunter guidance, is made up of anti-Sunday hunting fuddy duddys who would rather give up hunting entirely than see Pennsylvania hunters get our share of the goose migration and also have Sunday waterfowling. True or not, this is what I am told.

Other hunters I know say that the PGC is hopelessly tangled up with the US Fish & Wildlife Service on all kinds of policies, not the least of which is that PA has a boatload of passionate hunters who, given the least opportunity, will, it is said by wildlife management officialdom, destroy, decimate, eliminate, and exterminate every duck, goose, gander, coot, loon, pimpernel, plover, and shoveler that flies, walks, waddles, crawls, or ducks through the migration route between New York and Maryland. And so, according to this view, Pennsylvania waterfowl hunters must be artificially hamstrung and kept from going afield when the birds are flying the most. Again, I do not know how much truth there is to this, though I will testify to the fact that Pennsylvania does in fact field a lot of hunters. A lot.

And so we get to my response to the three ridiculous seasons proposed in the PGC survey: Not one of them makes any sense; all three are equally nonsensical alternatives.

What is the point of giving me various dates to hunt if the animal we are hunting is no longer in the venue in those dates, but has long since flown the coop and is doing leisurely backstrokes in Florida and Louisiana?

It appears that the PGC knows its three silly seasons are indeed silly, and yet the agency is overtly committed to them.

You can have a crap sandwich, a sh*t sandwich, or an imaginary sandwich,” is what PA waterfowl hunters are presented here.

This means Pennsylvania waterfowl hunters outside the Philly area southeast corner and outside a couple of interesting little “habitat and flyway bubbles” around Lake Erie and Shenango Lake in Western PA are officially SOL and just wasting their time sitting with a shotgun on a bucket and freezing solid past late December.

This current no-win situation begs for a bigger than life solution, but it also reminds me of the old Sunday hunting situation, where the PA Farm Bureau stole our private property rights for decades by artificially preventing any Sunday hunting. Only by marginally nibbling around the political edges did PA hunters finally get three weenie Sundays to hunt big game, and one suspects that such a small and unsatisfying “solution” is what is in store for PA waterfowlers, if a solution is to be had at all.

Maybe PGC will add more waterfowling days afield in March, when every single last duck and goose north of the Mason Dixon Line has landed in Costa Rica for the winter. Thanks but no thanks, PGC.

I for one, though I undoubtedly represent many others, would like to hunt ducks and geese in Pennsylvania at or closely around the same times/dates/days that hunters in New York are hunting them. But that would make sense, and if there is one thing I have learned as a PA waterfowl hunter, our seasons here are not intended to make sense.


Jerry Johnson & Johnson’s Furs

A fascinating and wonderful human named Jerry Johnson went to meet his Maker recently, and I would like to say why I am going to miss him so much.

Jerry founded and ran Johnson’s Furs in Enola back in the 1960s. Initially started to just buy, aggregate, and re-sell wildlife furs from foxes, coyotes, bobcat, mink, skunk, possum, raccoons etc., Jerry expanded the business to encompass everything possibly related to furs, like annually buying hundreds of thousands of deer and cattle hides, selling Hawbaker and Carman trapping lures, foothold traps, cage traps, Conibear-style traps, snares, cable restraints, and all of the steel fittings that go with those implements.

Jerry’s inspiration and logistical support came from the number one person in the trapping business back then, Stanley Hawbaker. A central Pennsylvania native, nationally recognized trapping expert and proponent Stanley Hawbaker was most active during the heyday of fur trapping, and he designed trapping lures and baits that are still in high demand today. Despite being a competitor for trappers’ business, Hawbaker saw in Jerry Johnson a rare opportunity to expand the trapping industry beyond its narrow focus at that time. And so Johnson’s Furs grew into a regional powerhouse.

I interviewed Jerry Johnson several times over the past fifteen years, and each time was fascinating. He and I were supposed to get together for some video interviews this spring, but his declining health prevented him from getting out or from talking for more than a few minutes. One of our most interesting times together was in his newly reconstructed log cabin, about five years ago.

The benefits enjoyed from Jerry’s incredible energy included having a one-stop shop for buying everything a trapper needs, as well as being able to drop off both pelts and whole critters. Johnson’s correctly processed everything brought in, and dealt with all of the big tanneries. During my last discussion with Jerry, just a few months ago, when I dropped off a huge elk hide for tanning, he reflected on the fact that only one tannery remains in eastern America that can tan an elk hide. He said he had witnessed the explosive growth of the hide and trapping industries in the 1960s and 1970s, and then had lived to see their eventual retraction and maybe even the demise of the cattle and deer hide businesses.

Jerry Johnson was the nicest person you would ever meet in your life. He was kind, patient, funny, and friendly. Like almost everyone of his generation in Central Pennsylvania, he did not know the word “quit,” and he worked very hard and long hours well into his 80s. And his prices were fair to the point of sometimes being unfair to him. When I ran for public office, he put my brochures up in the office and talked me up to interested voters.

Every year for a long time the District 8 PA Trappers Association held a Jerry Johnson Appreciation Lunch. Because it was on a Saturday and during the heart of hunting season, I never could participate. But Jerry knew I appreciated him because I told him so, so many times, over so many years of buying trapping equipment from him and having him process my furs.

I could write a short book here about what Jerry told me, about his youth, his education, his family, and his small business work. Maybe some day I will write a chapter about Jerry, but for now this is what I have to say: He was one of the last of a dying breed of Americans who grew up working hard, with his family, and who worked hard up until his death in his 80s. Jerry enjoyed and loved America and his fellow Americans, and never asked for more than a fair shot at doing business.

Among many other of your fans, I will miss you, Jerry Johnson. I will miss your advice, your quick smile, your quick wit, your outstanding service, and your kind personality. Thank you for all you did for me and my son, and for countless other trappers in the region.

Jerry Johnson and the Princess of Patience in 2021 in front of Johnson’s Furs

Jerry Johnson in 2020, minus mask and no social distancing, thank God.

Summertime harvests & roadside wisdom with strangers

Presently we are enjoying the height of the summer fruit and vegetable season. Berries wild and cultivated can be picked whenever you have time, often right along the road, and many are for sale at small roadside kiosks and shacks. Same goes for honey, sweet corn, and a host of vegetables. Most of which are organic and have not been sprayed with synthetic chemicals. It is really a wonderful time of year to both eat well, and participate in the natural gathering of food as humans have done since God completed our evolution a hundred thousand years ago.

One of the aspects of summer time food gathering that I enjoy is the natural gathering of people around the sources of these fruits and vegetables. Like roadside stands, selling fruits and vegetables picked that morning by the landowner, standing there wiping their hands on their apron, sweat beading on their forehead, and stuffing cash into their pockets or running off to make change.

The people who shop at roadside stands and kiosks are a pretty interesting group, and most of them are willing to strike up a discussion with the strangers around them with little more incentive than a good joke about the weather or an offering of just-purchased cherries from the stand down the road. At the stand where I bought our annual supply of sweet corn, the discussion centered on whither America given that so many young Americans do not want to work, can’t work, don’t know how to work. Everyone present shared their growing up story about how they learned to work hard, and to enjoy it, and where that strong work ethic took them in their life. This is real rural wisdom that keeps the wheels on America and turning.

As if on cue, a ragged bunch of older teenagers went braying by on Route 147, their dirt bikes drowning out the already damaged hearing of their elders gathered at the sweet corn stand.

See?” said the proprietress.

I told the neighbors they can’t ride on our farm without helmets because they are so foolish and are going to get hurt. They still ride through our crops anyhow,” she said with her hands on her hips and a furrowed brow darkening her attractive face.

I see it everywhere I go. Doesn’t matter the skin color: White, black, brown, yellow…today’s young Americans are seemingly all huffing endless free sh*t from their families like a recreational drug, and that lack of responsibility has led to a lack of focus, a lack of real goals, no work ethic, a lack of seriousness about life, etc. And yes, America will undoubtedly fail if these kids don’t grow up, wake up, and get serious about their lives and about their nation. Somewhere I saw headlines about half of the young people think “mis-gendering” someone should be a crime punishable by jail. Obviously these are not serious people, they are are adult-aged children stuck in perpetual childhood and whining about every damned little ridiculous nonsense thing.

It felt nice to have my own observations reinforced by the other elders standing around the corn stand. Anyone like me with a blog and strong opinions is bound to eventually live inside my own head. Getting out into the public and hearing from strangers that I am not alone in my worries about the upcoming generations of Americans is reassuring. No, I am not overly critical and demanding, I am just old fashioned because I believe that a strong work ethic makes you a better person, a more civic minded person, a better citizen, a more productive adult.

Some say that America could not be started over and built again today, with the toxic soup of all of the ridiculous and picayune regulations, rules, ordinances, etc surrounding us. But more than anything the challenge to America seems to be the lack of desire among our young people to want to achieve anything of substance, and their willing subservience to freedom-crushing government bureaucrats.

I wonder if these kids can learn to speak Chinese. At least “Please don’t shoot me” in Chinese ought to be a phrase they are taught, as the willing and easy victims they are building themselves up to be will need some memorable last words before their country is taken by force from them.

Enjoy your summer harvest, friends. I do, and I enjoy the old memories, too. When I was a kid, my mother would send me and a sibling out on hot summer days to pick gallons of blackberries, black raspberries, red raspberries, and blueberries that grew naturally on our property and on adjoining farms. We would return hours later red faced, dirty, scratched up, and with buckets fulled up, and unbeknownst to us, our can-do spirit filled up and stronger, too. We eventually ate what we picked; we earned what we ate. From the fruits of our labors Mom made jams, jellies, pies, and sauces, the Mason jars ever more lining up in the pantry nice and neat for us to eat throughout the coming year.

It is a shame that today’s young Americans are not learning such a simple life lesson.

Where are their parents? Where are the Americans?

Roadside sweet corn stand along Rt 147

As fast as the corn is brought up from the field it is stuffed by buyers into bags and spirited off to kitchens across the area

Rural America is full of iconic and inspiring scenic views like this looking at the Susquehanna River water gap

Quaint though they may be, the old-time country mouse values and principles of rural America trump the shallow arrogance of city mice every single time

Our fresh sweet corn was eaten a bit with butter and salt, but mostly stripped off the cob and put into ziploc freezer bags for eating throughout the year. Chicken corn chowder is a popular winter soup

While waiting for my daughter to finish getting her nails done for her wedding, I picked a hatful of red raspberries in the weed patch next to the parking lot. Unbelievably, a woman approached me and asked me for money to buy food. When I offered her my berries she became irate and yelled at me. Our family ate this delicious wild growing roadside fruit over three days.


Mike Pence is everything wrong in the GOP

If you read anything on this site about the Republican Party, you will not be surprised at how much of it is criticism. My criticism is always constructive, meant to help the Grand Old Party of Abolition and Opposition to Slavery be the best that it can be. God knows, the GOP needs all the help it can get, and no, I do not mean money.

What challenges the GOP and holds it back from fulfilling its former glory as the rampart of freedom against Democrat Party slaveowners is the party’s current internal culture. It is no longer the political party of Emancipation that gave voice to and freed the Negro slaves. If the Democrat Party is now a Marxist freak show of unsustainable, racist, destructive policies and violent, lawless traitors, the Republican Party is a sloth-like, money-based, money-oriented, money-everything, boring, uncreative, risk-averse assembly of staid careerists who never saw a lobbyist-paid fundraising dinner they didn’t want to participate in.

GOP culture is heavy on golf games, fundraisers, social events paid for by consultants and lobbyists. Waaaay back at the end of the line The People, the forgotten taxpayer, might factor in for some Republicans. My own congressman, Scott Perry, seems to be one of the few elected Republicans who thinks government should first and foremost serve The People, and that elected American officials should always put America first in all things.

Did you see Tucker Carlson’s recent televised discussion with Mike Pence? Pence here perfectly represents the GOP: “That [America] is not my concern.”

Like most if not all establishment Republican officials today, Pence is waaaaay out of touch with American citizens, and way way more oriented towards international business interests than with America-is-our-home interests. Pence just doesn’t care about us, you, me, my neighborhood, my neighbors, or America as a whole. And this doesn’t mean that Joe Biden does care; he doesn’t care, either. Heck, the Democrat Party is in utter and total war against America. The problem for us American citizens, as represented by Pence’s brutal honesty, is that NEITHER of these political parties cares about us. The Republican Party could be better. It could improve, if it but wanted to do so. Its leaders could care as much about saving America as the Democrats care about destroying America, but they don’t.

Which is why re-electing President Donald Trump is so important. He is the only non-politician running for president. He is the only candidate not inured to government, but rather recognizing that government is the problem, not the solution, and that our federal government is attempting a coup d’etat against the American people. Trump is the only person capable of saving America.

Midsummer report

My apologies for the long absence here. Summer is in full swing and our family has been operating at full tilt speed. Time only for doing things, and none for writing about it all, until now.

First off, our oldest kid was married on Independence Day. Held at a pretty and historic farm, it was a fantastic wedding, and we feel like we acquired a wonderful addition to our family. However, the preparation necessary for that event took up a lot of time and energy, for many months. And then there was the recovery week. And then there was the vacation week. Hence no blog posts. Full credit to my wife for all of the wedding planning.

At least I myself am back in the saddle, while other people around me are still recovering from their vacation. Not everyone does well with the surf fishing bum lifestyle, including sleeping on the beach, eating questionable food from a warm cooler that has been pawed over and drooled on by feral raccoons, and drinking fetid water. I myself thrive in this kind of environment, and so I am back to report back to our three readers.

What can I say about the wedding other than I fired our small black powder cannon seven times, for good luck. It was Independence Day, and while the venue does not allow fireworks, they did allow the cannon (it’s a cast iron, steel sleeved replica swivel gun with a 1.75″ bore). And in my speech as the bride’s father, how could I miss an opportunity to point out that Independence Day was brought to us by citizens with guns? That is a fact, is it not?

And (of course, I guess) I heard back afterwards that some of our wedding guests were offended by the cannon and also offended by my mention of the origins of American freedom – citizens with guns. You can’t make this stuff up if you tried, like it’s a Hollywood movie script caricature of spoiled rotten children who get everything that Planet Earth can provide and yet nonetheless complain about it. Something like “The food here is terrible and the portions are so small.”

Are Americans now really offended by Independence Day fireworks? Are they offended by displays of patriotism and mentioning of historical facts that unfortunately run contrary to some evil political narratives that privately owned guns are bad and our freedom was brought to Americans by a immaculately conceived federal government that descended from Heaven? Are some wedding guests now so crass that they actually complain about the bride’s father setting off his celebratory toy cannon for the enjoyment of all the normal fun-loving people in attendance?

I have a hard time believing these things, but I did get to witness this stuff. America is in big trouble when its own citizens, young and old, hate its founding and can’t give a proud father his one moment and some space to celebrate it. Jiminy crickets.

Just returned from a subsequent beach trip to a a long spit of federally managed property on the east coast. The National Park Service rangers were 99% normal, nice, intelligent Americans, thank you very much, Gage, Donald, and Stephen.

In this national park there is a problem with artificially high numbers of deer, foxes, and racoons. They have no natural predators and they are multiplying at breakneck rates and having huge negative impacts on the environment and local ecology. Vegetation shows a distinct deer browse line about four feet above the ground, and the racoons are everywhere, aggressive, and aiming to ruin your trip. I watched a red fox steal a camper’s breakfast sausage meal right off of his plate on the guy’s picnic table. We had raccoons patrolling our campsite and under our table as soon as we broke out our food. They will grab your food right out of your hand. It is a fact that raccoons are host to some nasty parasites they excrete in their poop, which was abundantly displayed all around the campsites. Raccoons are also the number one vector for rabies among wildlife.

Aside from posing health threats and incessantly badgering the humans who are trying to enjoy the park, the foxes and raccoons also eat the eggs of rare nesting shore birds. These rare birds enjoy huge swaths of cordoned off human-free dunes and beaches in the park (and also on federal and state lands out on Long Island, like Orient Point and Montauk). And yet the same exact NPS staff enforcing the human no-go dune zones policy are absolutely fine with the overabundant nest-raiding foxes and raccoons that render all the no-go zones meaningless. The staff do not support hunting or trapping these destructive pests, either to improve the park visitor experience or to protect the natural environment.

How can the rare birds successfully nest on the ground and hatch their chicks there when the artificially super overabundant egg-eating raccoons and foxes are allowed to roam at will?

Talking with various National Park Service staff about this problem resulted in exposure to various levels of education and serious/unserious mindset. Most of the NPS staff acknowledged there is a wildlife problem on site that must be addressed. Hunting the deer and trapping the foxes and raccoons is the normal and responsible way to deal with this artificial human-caused environmental problem. These are the responsible and serious ways of addressing a visitor problem on land that is owned by the US taxpayer and whose management is entrusted to taxpayer-paid bureaucrats.

However, when I mentioned the above normal solutions to a young, handsome, tall NPS Park Policeman patrolling our campground, he responded “The same can be said about humans — there are just too many humans. And your solution to the overabundant raccoon problem is not humane.” He would get rid of the humans and allow the artificially high numbers of nuisance wildlife to proliferate. With taxpayer-paid federal employees of this guy’s low caliber and high wokeness quotient, the park visitor experience is going to degrade. C’mon, NPS, you can screen your employee applicants better than this. This foolish people-hating young guy should never have a gun and a badge, much less wear an NPS uniform.

Overall the surf fishing was fun if mostly unproductive. Probably due to the high heat and ferocious sunshine. I can report that catching cownose/ bullnose rays on strong surf tackle is a hoot, but then safely decoupling that animal from the tackle is a whole other thing. They whip their barbed tails around trying to nail the fisherman, who is trying to release them back into the ocean (I learned to place something heavy on the tail while using heavy pliers to remove or break off the hook). We did witness a large shark violently feeding close to shore, and it would be a fair guess to say it was probably eating these rays, which we caught and saw in abundance on both the bay side and the ocean surf side.

So that is the mid-summer report. Fast action, lots of family, some big family celebration and lots of family movement across the beautiful American landscape for work and vacation. I hope that you the reader are also enjoying your summertime. Summer is such a glorious time to be with family and friends, to visit new places, to camp out under the stars and cook over an open fire, to think through life’s normal challenges and to spend time with people we love…and then it is over just when we are all starting to really get into it.

So make the most of your summer.

Campsite neighbor Steve, a PhD engineer ex-patriot Brit and defiant leftist, helped MAGA Maniac Josh fix my malfunctioning headlamp, demonstrating that it’s easy to be enemies when separated by keyboards and easy to be friends when living side by side

Nice level NPS campsites with fire ring and grill

Each campsite has a pavilion and a picnic table. Is this really camping?

Asbury Park Brewery is a local flavor that I was happy to support. No sign anywhere of Bud Lite or Budweiser anything, thankfully

Symbol of foolish National Park Service policies seeking to protect rare shore birds by excluding people from their habitat, but allowing artificially overabundant populations of nest-raiding raccoons and foxes to roam at will.

Beach goers nonetheless entered this area because there were zero nesting birds in it and there were literally tons of foxes running around in it. Come on National Park Service, you can do much smarter than this

Ahhhhh… summer vacation on the Atlantic Coast